Justice is about giving people what they are due, and theories of social or distributive justice aim to explain how the benefits and burdens of social life should be shared. Typically, this is done by specifying principles that tell us how things like wealth, goods, services, opportunities, liberties and rights should be allocated. Philosophers and lawyers also discuss retributive justice, which is concerned with the treatment of people who break laws and with the justification of punishment. However, in this chapter ‘justice’ is used to refer to distributive or social justice, and these two terms are used interchangeably. In the first half of the chapter we will compare three rival perspectives, summarised in Table 9.1, contrasting them with the egalitarian view already explored in Chapter 8.
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